Review The Future
Summary: Review the Future is a podcast that unapologetically speculates about the impact of near-future technologies on society and culture. Topics will include the Singularity and Transhumanism, Automation and Artificial Intelligence, and more. Follow the podcast on Twitter (@rtf_podcast) and follow hosts Ted Kupper (@tedkupper), a screenwriter, and Jon Perry, (@QuibbleGames), a game designer.
In today's episode, we discuss Google's new conversational AI, known as Duplex. Although impressive as a tech demo, this new technology has not received the warmest of receptions. We discuss the various ethical and possibly criminal implications of robots that can convincingly fool humans over the phone. Next, we discuss a possible shift to a fully digital currency. Though cryptocurrency is a hot topic at the moment, we do not expect that a real digital currency is likely to resemble today's cryptocurrency. A likely digital currency would probably be centralized under government control and have resulting advantages and risks.
We discuss Moore's law and how it undergirds most futurist predictions, and what that means now that it appears to be coming to an end. We cover the benefits of predictable gains for software developers versus the low hanging opportunities to optimize. We then cover the abstract idea of optimism vs. pessimism in argumentation and posit that a desire to inspire or negatively motivate to prevent leads to insincere argumentation.
In today's episode we dive into the implications of two recent news stories. The first involves an exciting new tech demo that came out of the MIT Media Lab for a device called the AlterEgo. The AlterEgo combines subvocal recognition with bone conduction tech to create the external appearance of computer-aided telepathy. Does this technology have a future, and if so, what form will it take? The second news story involves the announcement by Amazon of plans to enter the domestic robotics space. With very few actual details to go over, we indulge in our typical wild speculation about the kinds of home robotics that might see use in the near future, and whether the concept of ephemeralization can be meaningfully applied to home appliances. We close out the episode by registering our predictions (hint: Alexa-roomba) of what we expect to see from Amazon's eventual product.
In today's episode we wade into the ongoing societal conversation around social media and privacy that has been taking place in the wake of the recent Facebook scandal. But before getting started we do some follow up on previous discussion topics: existential risk and self driving cars. Next, after a quick rehash of the Cambridge Analytica data breach, we discuss ways to think about privacy and data and consider some of the pros and cons of government regulation in this area.
For the first time ever, today's episode was recorded and uploaded on the same day, with no editing. As part of our push to get more content out quicker, we are taking steps towards a live radio format. On this podcast, we discuss coverage of the recent Uber self driving car accident. What does the tone of the coverage suggest about peoples fears and willingness to adopt this new technology? Later, we discuss the imminent rise of full body scans, and their potential usefulness as clothing models, fitness trackers, VR avatars, and even fodder for bizarre art.
We discuss AI risk argument through two recent articles, one written by sci fi author Ted Chiang and one by Steven Pinker, both of which dismiss the strongest version of the arguments as put forth by Nick Bostrom and others, in this episode. Is insight the same as morality, as Chiang seems to think? Does Steven Pinker even understand the basics of Bostrom’s claims? Does the foom argument need to be true to worry about AI risk? And at the end, a bit of fun (before we’re all turned into paperclips).
As part of our new casual discussion series, we do two mini reviews of recent science fiction TV shows. Jon shares his critiques of the the first episode of the new season of Black Mirror, while Ted offers his impressions of the new show Altered Carbon. Although we found some things to appreciate, in general we are not fans of these shows. We suggest reading Crystal Nights or Peripheral instead. Or maybe watching Rick and Morty.
Today we are rejoined by professor and friend of the podcast Robin Hanson. Robin has just co-authored a fascinating new book called The Elephant in the Brain. This book examines our hidden motives, and while it has nothing directly to do with the future, it does have significant implications for policy and institutional design. Robin is also an accomplished futurist (as exemplified by his other excellent book Age of Em) and so were able to press him on the possible future implications of his thesis and come up with some interesting answers.
In this episode we discuss the prospect of designer babies. As genetic engineering and reproductive technologies continue to advance, parents are likely to gain unprecedented control over their offspring. We discuss some of the near term prospects for germ line engineering and speculate about the degree of manipulation that might be possible in the near term. But perhaps more importantly, we discuss some of the ethical and policy implications of such advances. Will designer babies pave the way for a healthier and happier society or are we in for a more dystopian outcome?
Impressive demos promise that new technologies will democratize the kind of high-end audio and video fakery we usually associate only with blockbuster films. In this episode Jon and Ted extrapolate on that idea: what happens when many things can be faked, and everyone knows it? We discuss previous eras of forgery and modern forensics, posit an arms race to fake and spot fakes, and talk about the very real dangers of even momentarily misleading a diplomat or military officer -- but also how much fun this ability will be for comedians and satirists. Finally we imagine how much better Nigerian Prince scams are going to get.
Thanks in part to Elon Musk and other popularizers, many people have encountered the notion that we might be living in a simulation. However, far fewer people are familiar with the exact details of Nick Bostrom's "Simulation Argument", the paper from which much of the conversation originated. In this podcast, we attempt to do justice to Bostrom's argument by laying it out in a clear and organized fashion. After accomplishing that task, we devolve into our typical ad hoc speculation. Should we be worried about being shut down? Are people living in other countries actually just illusions? What is the David Bowie Theory of Simulation and why is it so important? These questions and more on this episode of Review the Future.
With the explosion of possibilities in new interactive systems brought by ubiquitous computing and VR, we thought it made sense to try to nail down some precise language for how to discuss all these types of systems. In this episode we explore a possible categorization schema for interactive systems along two axes: Variability and Goal-Orientation. We walk through the ways that goal structures and variable outcomes give and take power from the creator and user of an interactive system, and discuss a wide range of systems from books and movies to sports and immersive VR, but also websites, choose-your-own-adventures, triple-A video games, and many other points between.
In this episode, we have a free-ranging conversation that begins by discussing the modern replication crisis in psychology and other fields. We examine how this development might affect our views on the pace of progress generally. Amidst our many tangents, we consider the possibility of getting tech companies to share their proprietary data for the sake of science research and wonder if becoming an increasingly globalized society imposes coordination co
In this episode, we discuss the modern Darwinian battle for attention currently playing out on the global internet. We consider some of the psychological methods that have been and will be developed for capturing and keeping people's attention. We wonder whether the solution that will help us navigate this growing war for our eyeballs is digital assistant technology that can better help us cut through the noise.
We’re back! We really didn’t want to talk about Trump, but we felt like we had to at least address it. How does the new US president affect our future predictions? Find out in this episode. Relevant Links: PAPER: Robots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labor Markets